October 30th, 2011


Today Is

It is a very important day here on the Ranch. Today is bordercolliebrs Whelping Day!

Happy Whelping Day, Houdini & Squrrl!

Yes, they are actually, really brothers, entering our lives on the same day via their mother, Mamma Mudge. Mudge came to us from our neighbor, Ms. P who looked to re-home her after a few (over some years) not so successful litters, with an overbite problem and loss of pups because Mudge would retreat deep under the house to whelp. First week she lived with us, though, she took off and went back to Ms. P's place; we kept bringing her back, and after a week or so it stopped. Or really, slowed down because occasionally through the rest of her life, Mudge went back to visit.

Seems there was only one Dog in Mudge's life, and that is Michael, Ms. P's dog. And sure enough, she went back to see Mike that first week because It Was Time, and Herself managed to keep Mudge indoors and provide a nice snug 'cave' in our Utility Closet on Whelping Day, and six pups came into the world four males and two females. Three found new homes between 8 - 16 weeks of age (both females and one male). One, Squrrl, was 'spoken for' however the speakee never did come claim him and we're just as happy about that. One, Houdini, was on the 'for sale' list until he both earned his name by getting out of any of the kennels we had for them, or off any line we used, AND we realised he was doing that to come find Me.

Smudge we planned on keeping. And Smudge we miss, he going off to the Great Ranch last year ...

We'll send a Happy Whelping Day message off to one of Herself's brothers family, that being where Holly (one of their sisters) lives.

Nine years, guys. Nine great years.

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October Is Breast Cancer Awareness

Eleven years ago I embarked on a project to honour a friend who died of breast cancer. She'd asked me to teach her photography so that her family would be excited to see her vacation shots rather than saying 'Now be polite and watch Aunties vacation show'. And she made a lot of progress in that, too. About eight years after she died, after photographing a mutual friend and listening to NPR on the ride home announcing 'It is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,' I started thinking about doing a series of portraits of people doing self-exam.

There is a lot of controversy about breast self-examination. By the time lesions are large enough for people to feel, if malignant they are quite along in the process. Mammograms, x-rays, even magnetic resonance imagery are all likely to find cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions much sooner. Self-examination remains, however, both the most likely to keep the awareness that this needs to be a regular thing, this checking for this disease, and the most visual manner of raising that awareness.

There are some slow spots in this project of mine, and others where the energy returns. In the same 11 years, two more friends died of breast cancer, and a multitude more were diagnosed and are survivors. Over time the name I gave to it morphed from a very difficult and long expression to 'Healing Art'. I also learned a good deal about the use of art in healing, in a multitude of means and methods. My concepts for the project started growing, and expanded to ideas which needed survivors and explore the self-image changes, rather than only people doing self-exam.

Any photograph done in the series, all the proceeds go to some one of the various breast cancer research foundations.

This piece is from this year, and explores aspects of digital photography to move into animation. The same model who worked with me to create the Dryad series, and more on the same day we did this work, Chelsea Christian helped with this project. As with everyone else who works with me on this, my directions are simple: Do a self-examination.

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It never ceases to amaze me, the results that simple direction produces. Look again at that piece. Look at her face. Everyone shows that same concentration, the current sensory input being matched against memory from previous self-exams.

I've deliberately left off one word in my title to this post. This month gets a lot of publicity for those words. The thing is, it isn't a one time deal. It is month, after month, after month, for an entire lifetime.

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